Business Briefs: Pa. auditor general warns Highmark, UPMC to get along

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Auditor general steps in

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said he would consider auditing UPMC if the region's two largest health providers can't get along. In a news conference Wednesday, Mr. DePasquale urged UPMC and Highmark to "open their health care facilities to all insurance carriers." Mr. DePasquale, a Pittsburgh-born Democrat, is one of several politicians calling on Highmark and UPMC to work out their differences before the contract between them, which allows Highmark customers to use UPMC hospitals, expires at the end of 2014.

PPG sells part in joint venture

PPG Industries' fiber glass division sold its 50 percent interest in the PPG-Devold joint venture to Hexagon Devold, a Norwegian company whose parent, Hexagon Composites, created the venture with PPG in 2007. The venture is based at PPG's fiber glass plant in Shelby, N.C., where Hexagon Devold will continue to produce materials for the wind power industry. Financial terms were not disclosed. In its announcement of the sale, Hexagon said it resulted from "PPG's desire to streamline its profile as a supplier of fibreglass." Downtown-based PPG identifies itself primarily as a producer of coatings and specialty optical materials since selling off its chemicals and some glass units in recent years.

Lanxess' Q1 profit plummets

Lanxess, the Germany-based producer of chemicals, plastics and rubber materials, said first-quarter net income plummeted 87 percent because of weak demand, especially in the European car market, which is experiencing record-low sales. Net income dropped to 25 million euros ($32.9 million) from 192 million euros ($252.8 million) in the first quarter of 2012. Global sales fell by 12 percent, to 2.1 billion euros, from 2.4 billion euros a year ago. In North America, where Lanxess maintains its headquarters in Findlay, sales dropped by 23 percent. Lanxess chairman Axel Heitmann said the company is considering job cuts and plant closures to control costs. Lanxess employs about 350 at its North American headquarters and at plants on Neville Island and in Burgettstown, Washington County.

Coca-Cola promises more

Coca-Cola says it will work to make lower-calorie drinks and clear nutrition information more widely available around the world. The Atlanta-based company's diet drinks are not as readily available in emerging markets such as China and India as they are in the U.S.

Subaru expanding Ind. plant

Subaru said Wednesday it is investing $400 million to expand its Indiana factory and will add 900 workers to build the Impreza small car there in 2016. The plant now employs about 3,600 people.

Also in business ...

MSA, the Cranberry safety products company, increased its quarterly dividend 2 cents to 30 cents per share. ... News that Canada's Talisman Energy Inc. is pulling out of exploration for shale gas in Poland is a blow to the country's hopes that its deposits of the hydrocarbon will soon cut its dependence on Russia.

From staff and wire reports

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